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Radhika Devi Vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (23 Sep 2019)

Liberalised Family Pension is payable only to family members of Armed Forces personnel who have died in action

MANU/SC/1324/2019

Service

In present matter, Naib Subedar Umed Singh was enrolled in the Army. On 19th December, 2001, he was posted at the International Border in Operation Parakram. While taking part in the fire fighting drill activities, he collapsed and was declared dead. According to the death certificate, he died due to Ischemic heart disease leading to cardiac arrhythmia (ventricular fibrillation).

The Respondents granted Special Family Pension to the Appellant. Unsatisfied with the grant of Special Family Pension instead of the Liberalised Family Pension, the Appellant filed Original Application (OA) before the Armed Forces Tribunal. The Tribunal dismissed the OA holding that, the Appellant was not entitled to either Liberalised Family Pension or ex-gratia payment.

Aggrieved by the order of the Tribunal, the Appellant filed a Writ Petition in the High Court of Delhi, which was allowed. The High Court found that, the Appellant was entitled to Liberalised Family Pension and ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakhs. The Appellant challenged the judgment of the High Court to the extent that, ex-gratia payment of Rs. 7.5 lakhs was not awarded in her favour. The Respondent, Union of India has also filed an appeal questioning the judgment of the High Court in so far as it relates to the declaration that, the Appellant is entitled to the Liberalised Family Pension and the award of Rs. 5 lakhs as ex-gratia amount.

The claim of Liberalised Family Pension by the Appellant is on the basis of the Instructions issued by the Government of India on 31st January, 2001. As per the said Instructions, a member of the family of a deceased Armed Forces Personnel whilst employed in an operation notified by the Government of India would be entitled to Liberalised Family Pension. In Kanchan Dua v. Union of India and Anr., present Court held that, Liberalised Family Pension in accordance with the Instructions issued by the Government of India is payable only to the family members of Armed Forces personnel who have died in action.

In view of the death of the Appellant due to cardiac failure, the Appellant is not entitled to Liberalised Family Pension. In so far as the payment of ex-gratia amount/compensation is concerned, the Appellant is entitled to Rs. 5 lakhs as ex-gratia compensation in accordance with the Instructions dated 22th September, 1998. The special benefits that were granted by the Government of India for ex-gratia payment is payable in all cases of death and disability in service to the family members of the Armed Forces Personnel who died in harness. As the death of the Appellant's husband was not during enemy action in international war or border skirmishes and action against militants, terrorists, extremists etc., the Appellant is not entitled to Rs. 7.5 Lakhs as claimed by her. The judgment of the High Court declaring that the Appellant is entitled for Liberalised Family Pension is set aside. She is entitled only for the Special Family Pension.

Tags : FAMILY MEMBERS   PENSION   ENTITLEMENT  

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